In addition to jokes, drafts of letters, remedies for catarrh, and lists of the fish in his ponds at Hill Hall, Smith includes in this commonplace notebook extensive entries on one of his favourite topics, currency. As Secretary of State during the reign of Edward VI, Smith grappled with the problem of currency debasement and rampant inflation. Smith’s ideas on currency as recorded here informed his unpublished treatise ‘On the Wages of a Roman Foot Soldier’. In the latter Smith condemned debasement of coinage as a cause of harm in a commonwealth, liable to inflict losses on all and bring about disaster to the Crown. Smith sought to support his arguments through reference to classical and modern authorities, and provided elaborate tables to compare the relative value of English and Roman money.
Author: Thomas Smith
Title: ‘Recognisances & examinations’ [Commonplace book] (16th century)
Shelfmark: Queens’ College Library MS 83
Digital copy: Cambridge Digital Library